Henry Barczynski, who passed away on Monday (7 June), played an important role in the development of SRO Motorsports Group, both as a team owner and as an innovator in the field of broadcast technology.
An accomplished and forward-thinking radio frequency engineer, Henry founded Gigawave and built his company into the industry leader in broadcast radio frequency technology used in TV production.
This success allowed him to pursue his passion for motor racing and, in particular, GTs. He started his own team, Gigawave Motorsport, which made its FIA GT Championship debut in 2007, running an Aston Martin DBR9 at Zolder.
The team expanded to a full-time programme in 2008 and scored three podium finishes, including a fine run to third overall at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa (pictured above). Among its other exploits, the team also worked on the development of Nissan's GT-R GT1 throughout 2009.
But his involvement with SRO expanded beyond that of an ordinary team owner. Henry used racing as a test bed to develop the cutting-edge technology of ground-based receiving for on-board cameras, which has since been universally adopted in motorsport. He was also an early advocate of high-definition live television and partnered with SRO to ensure that its coverage was broadcast in HD.
Henry's work on this side of the sport brought him into contact with Mike Scott, now SRO Motorsports Group's head of TV, who paid tribute to his late friend and colleague.
"Henry was great man to whom I owe my introduction to Stéphane Ratel and therefore my career in SRO," explained Mike.
"His remarkable ability to see the future of TV technology led him to identify the potential of live-streaming of the race broadcasts. This allowed FIA GT and later FIA GT1 to be at the vanguard of the new way to watch live sport."
Richard Hay, managing director of Hay Fisher Productions, also paid tribute.
"Everyone who worked with him has a ‘Henry story’ to tell," said Richard. "His influence on those he worked with was enormous and long lasting. So many people owe their careers and, in some cases, their business to Henry. He certainly had a big impact on me and Hay Fisher."
Henry would eventually sell Gigawave to Vislink and the company that he built remains a market leader today. He later retired to Bordeaux and embraced another of his passions by opening a restaurant.
"Henry was always supported, in life and business, by his remarkable wife Jan, to whom we send our deepest condolences," added Mike. "Henry was an entrepreneur, a visionary, warm, kind and colourful in his unique way. All those who worked for him or with him will have great memories of a loyal employer and friend."
These sentiments are echoed by Stéphane Ratel, who on behalf of the entire SRO Motorsports Group team paid tribute to Henry's contribution both as a member of the paddock and as a technological innovator.